Blitzkrieg 3 makes a number of bold claims for a game that comes twelve years since the game that preceded it. Firstly, and perhaps most prominently, it claims to have the first neural net AI in a game of this kind. In addition, Blitzkrieg 3 also claims a number of unique game modes and a huge range of missions and units that span the entire geography and timeline of World War II.
Despite these seemingly grand claims, Blitzkrieg 3 clearly does deliver. The campaign begins in Africa and features the conflict between the Commonwealth, Italian and later, German forces. From there, theatres such as Scandinavia and Western Europe begin to emerge, as do more and more of the alternative modes.
Campaign missions, unsurprisingly, advance the main series of historical battles. Each of these broadly describes and represents a real battle that took place, and I really love the variety of locations and the inclusion of lesser known conflicts. A great deal of love and respect has been applied to Blitzkrieg 3, and it’s nice to see references to Australian, Indian, Polish, Canadian, Free French and many other forces. It’s a slight shame that battles draw units from a general pool, rather than being specific to each battle, but more on that later.
Following the first few missions, players will gain access to various other modes, and that’s when things become even more interesting. First up is the Base Defense mode, which is an online mode that can be played as either PvP or PvAi. Players set up their base in advance using unlocked unit cards that each have a cost, and draw from a maximum resource pool. In the PvAi mode, enemy players then assault your base and face the units and defenses that you’ve positioned, controlled by the games AI. The PvP mode is more traditional, with the normal structure of an attacker and a defender.
Players are also able to enjoy pseudo online modes against Boris, the neural net AI I mentioned earlier. These battles feel a lot like normal skirmishes to me, but the AI is certainly competent and enjoyable to play against. I enjoyed attacking in the base defense mode, but I also found that I won often – I doubt this is down to my skill alone, so perhaps further balancing is needed. Similarly, on anything less than hard difficulty, Boris seems incapable of defending against multiple attacks from different directions.
Most battles take place at somewhere between the platoon and battalion level, and players usually have free reign to choose the units they take into battle up to a resource limit. Smaller battles provide about 200 points to spend, and a unit of infantry ranges between 25 and 35, with a decent light tank weighing in at about 45. Larger battles might be 600 or more points, so things can get hectic. In any battle, achieving objectives will yield more resources points, and players can call in more units from their pool, or alternatively use powerful effects like paratrooper drops, howitzer salvos and air strikes.
Most of the battles are on the relatively short side, which might be a bad thing, were it not for the fact that there are bloody tons of them. Maps are extremely varied and absolutely beautiful. On the highest settings, Blitzkrieg 3 has some of the best looking and most detailed maps I’ve seen in any similar games. On winter maps, snow settles on the tanks, in forests, trees fall convincing as armored vehicles roll over them. The sand dunes of North Africa have never looked better.
Blitzkrieg 3 is everything it promises and more, if what you’re looking for is a small to medium scale, feature rich and action orientated combat RTS. It isn’t grand strategy and it doesn’t deep dive into too many tactical details that might over complicate the experience. It has a huge selection of missions, maps, modes and units that together form more than the considerable sum of their parts.